Lost Bag

I left work early today, and forgot to bring my backpack. I noticed it was missing while on the way out and came back up to get it. (My "wallet, cellphone, keys" mantra needs to include "backpack.") I walked out again and took a leisurely stroll,  making observations, feeling the cold wind and taking notice of all the storefronts closing on Houston Street. "Oh look!... a Birch Coffee shop is opening", I thought. "Do I really like Birch Coffee? It's kind of bitter tasting, but the baristas are always so earnest." I was hungry and just barely avoided grabbing a Margarita slice from crowded Joe's Pizza and eventually settled on Maison Kaiser for a dignified Parisian lunch before my dignified haircut at Fellow Barber. I did my usual take-videos-of-my-food-and-post, ate, paid, and got up to leave.

My bag was missing. I checked, double-checked, and looked accusingly at the guilty clientele who perhaps snuck it under their winter outerwear piled high. I calmly alerted the waitstaff and management, and they graciously looked in every corner and through surveillance cameras to see what happened. (TOP security there! Those croissants are like gold!) No luck. My heart sunk at my loss. Some items I figured I could replace: The Leather and Artemisia Jo Malone sample might be difficult, but (spoiler alert) The La Mer Oil Absorbing Lotion is soon to be updated, The La Mer Renewal Oil was almost empty, and paperwork showing options for pigeon removal provided at my last council meeting would be an easy lookup online. The padlock I replaced for the one I left at home can be replaced with the one I left at home.  My Canon G7 camera would be a major loss, but my hard disk with almost every important document from the past 10 years would be a devastating loss. I also couldn't remember if nude pics were on this disk, but that didn't bother me as much as my all my tax information going public. NOW I know how Trump feels! Yuk!

I was calm but crestfallen. I hadn't stopped anywhere from the office to the cafe, so where could my bag have gone? It wasn't stolen. It didn't drop off my back. I thought maybe I left it at work...again. I called the only person I knew who would be at the office, Teda (a major plug for Teda's dedication!), and she was there..after hours..still working. I sheepishly asked her to look around the office by my desk. I waited to hear that there was no bag. "You left it on your desk with both zippers open" she said. "THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU." I was so relieved. And so angry at myself. I debated if I should inform the cafe staff, but I thought it best they not worry (or pretend to worry!)

Who leaves their bag behind after coming back to get it after losing it the first time? Was it Louis' ferret that he brought in today that distracted me? Or Patsy Cline, Larissa's Frenchie, who I was petting earlier that made my mind wander?  I leave lots of things behind, like the one sneaker that really made fitness class a challenge, my glasses, my cell phone and wallet. Come to think of it, I do it often.

There are solutions (like Google Drive) or getting two cameras, but the big issue is that I'm not always living in the present...where my mind needs to be. Live in the present! Live for now! (Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday...there are so many cute phrases). Be purposeful. Be mindful. Be here. I am here! I am now! I am this second! I wish I didn't carry all my yesterdays with me...and maybe losing the bag was a sign to lose my baggage! Don't carry it with you anymore, Roger! 

My interview with Terry Stoller - Westbeth Profiles in Art

Thanks to Terry, who was very patient with me. What a fun experience being interviewed. Reading my spoken words was quite humbling. I sound like a moron. John Turner retouched my photo for me and designed the poster. There were lots of things I didn't say, and some things I probably shouldn't. I had many influences and supporters in my life, one of the biggest ones early in my "career" was Ira Greenberg. In 1989, he wrote my first press release of a "show" at The Turning Point in Piermont NY. I met Ira at Cornell, followed him to U. Penn, slept on his futon in Philly and came out to him first after not-so-secretly having been in love with him. That's the short story. Ha!  His reaction and subsequent love and affection is ingrained in my soul. He had such an appreciation for me that I never saw in myself, and was never shy in expressing it. We, but mostly he, was fiercely competitive, which found its way to a bowling match where I needed 5 strikes in a row to beat him by one point. Which I did. But he claimed to have not tried at the end and took the wind out of my sails. Barton Benes continued what Ira had started, and was one of those inspirations, both as a person and an artist, that I keep going back to in my mind whenever I take an objective view of myself. My instincts have always been to be humble and apologetic, but remembering the love and passion from Ira and Barton fuel me to own up to my greater self. 

Here is my Westbeth Profiles in Art Interview

Self Portrait vs. Selfie

I take a lot of selfies, but before cell phones, they were called "self-portraits." Selfies now are meant to make other people feel bad about where they are or what they are eating or who they are with by saying "I'm better than you...I'm at a fabulous location while you aren't...I'm eating a 5-course pasta tasting menu at Babbo while you have microwaved leftover Chinese." Am I right? :) From 1988 - 1989, I took self-portraits for photography class. They evolved from an assignment that restricted use of one roll of film for one object. 24 or 36 pictures in a roll, give or take. I used my flannel shirt in clever compositions, but I wasn't happy with the images feeling emotionally disconnected.  I then turned the camera on me. Self-timed, staged and sometimes serious, I looked to communicate something personal and internal. Looking back, it was a real challenge as a closeted gay man trying to both reveal and hide yourself at the same time. I've always been overly self-critical (as well as of others!) and these pictures tried to shine a light on all the internal critical thoughts. "Idiot for trying" "Am I in Focus?" "Shit, I moved" were obvious ones. 

I also made an effort to be a good boy, perhaps to compensate for the bad person I thought I was. I tried to do right by everyone and everything. I worked hard at any job I could get and basically said to the world that I can adapt to any expectation of me.  That was part of this series of disguises. 

These were inspired by Jessica Wurtzel's double exposures that I loved. They focused on attempts of capturing the un self-conscious. I woke up early and took some of the photos before a shower to see if the real me would come out. 

I created my own "Garden of Eden", complete with plants and apple painting, and used a cigarette to turn from good boy painter to ashamed nude. I didn't print a lot of them, but maybe one day they'll move from the contact sheet.

Sometimes, I'd let others take pics of me, but always in character as someone else. 

More self exploration. I think it's a great thing to do, always check in with yourself and see who you are, what are you doing, and who are you doing it for. 

A new day at Westbeth

There is a beeping noise coming from outside now for about 2 hours. It's really annoying and it's loudest right by the best part of the apartment...the window. Yes, it's a dirty window, but the pigeons have caused havoc on the ledge and the dirt serves as a buffer. I have to clean the ledge outside about once a week, dumping buckets of hot sudsy water and scraping pigeon poop down 9 stories with a utility broom . If you're ever on Washington Street between Bank and Bethune, I would suggest walking on the East side.

I can usually catch my neighbor Kathryn next door doing the same thing. We love to talk and complain about it while we both scrub away our anger at Management. We've complained for over 2 years, and the best they have done is glue a wooden owl and apply netting on the opposite side of the building to force the pigeons in this direction. I've given them a detailed explanation of the pigeon location, but it seems to be ignored. When I moved in to Westbeth, I was once was told to be careful and not let things get to me like many tenants here have done. That advice hasn't worked. 

 Noise (unseen) from outside

Noise (unseen) from outside